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Is wild Alaskan halibut worth the money?

Updated: 6 days ago

Once you eat wild Alaskan halibut, it's hard to go back to any other whitefish. It sits on a pedestal for fish eaters and is sustainably harvested from pristine, glacial-fed waters.

However, compared to other types of white fish like haddock, wall eye, blue gill, farmed tilapia, cod, or others, Alaskan halibut can be relatively expensive due to its high quality and small-boat fisherman sourcing.

So what makes wild Alaskan halibut worth it?

Sustainable and well-managed fishery

In Alaska, protecting the future of both the halibut stocks and the environment takes priority over opportunities for commercial harvest. Halibut management in Alaska is a collaborative process, in which the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) assesses stocks and sets catch limits annually to protect the population and maintain quality. From these limits, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) allocates quota to fishermen. For nearly 100 years, the IPHC has set sustainable catch limits to ensure wild Alaska halibut is available in Alaska for generations to come.

Because of these climate-forward sustainable management policies, there is a limited quantity of wild halibut that can be harvested from Alaska's waters. A limited quantity of anything makes for higher prices. Think about how this management benefits the ecosystem, and consider your halibut purchase an investment in the planet and sustainability.

Cost of doing the fishing business

The wild halibut fishing quota doesn't just regulate how much fish can be caught, but also who can catch them. In 1995 the regulations changed from a "total allowable catch (TOC)" to "individual fishing quotas (IQF)". Which meant whoever was in the wild Alaskan halibut fishing at the time was given a certain percentage of the TOC (based on their historical catches) and that percentage, the IFQ, then remained the same moving forward.

That means if it's determined the population of halibut is strong and the TOC goes up, the IFQs go up too, and vice versa, but the percentage remains the same.

The IFQs are also limited by the boat size - some can be caught with large vessels, some have to be caught with smaller boats.

Fishermen can buy and sell these IFQs, but again, there are limits on how many can one person own and you have to be an established fisherman to buy quota. On top of that, buying quota is not cheap. It usually costs around 7-8 times the price of the fish, so at best you need 7-8 years of fishing just to earn your money back. And that's only if the price remains normal and the fishing stays good.

In other words, wild Alaskan halibut fishing is an enclosed system, within which the Alaskan fishermen can catch limited amount of halibut and they have to pay a lot of money for that privilege.

And that's just the quota!

You also need to have a boat with the right gear, that'll cost you as much as a nice house, you need other permits to be able to fish at all, sometimes you need a crew, your boat needs gas and maintenance, your crew needs food, etc.

The costs are seemingly never ending for an Alaskan fishermen!

Juro Kusnir and a 300lb wild Alaskan halibut
Alaska Fresh owner Juro Kusnir and a 300lbs halibut! Usually they grow to 60lbs.

Wild and Alaskan both come with a price

Wild Alaskan halibut can be elusive and sometimes you need to travel far and wide to get it. You might have days when you come home empty handed or with just a couple of fish.

And even after the fishing is done, it's still ways to go to get on a plate.

Our premium wild Alaskan halibut is processed right there in Alaska and only once it's safely packed in vacuum packed frozen portions, it travels to the continental United States. Everything is expensive in Alaska, including fish processing, but in order to preserve all the qualities, that's the only way to go.

In this fast world it's sometimes easy to forget how remote Alaska is, but the shipping cost will remind you of it every time. Add packaging necessary to keep this delicate fish in top shape (aka frozen) and you have a piece of fish with a price tag similar to a piece steak.


Wild Alaskan halibut - fish like no other

Knowing where all the costs of wild Alaskan halibut come from, we still have the most important question - is it worth the price? Short answer - yes, absolutely!

And here is why:

Easy to cook to perfection

Many people find wild Alaskan halibut to be the best-tasting white fish out there. Alaskan halibut has a mild, sweet flavor, often compared to king crab or lobster, and firm, flaky texture that many people enjoy. This lean, mild, and meaty whitefish is extremely versatile for use in a variety of different recipes that include baking, grilling, searing, sautéing, and steaming. Halibut also makes a delicious ceviche and fish fry.

High in protein and low in fat

Alaskan halibut is a great source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in the body. The high protein content of wild Alaska halibut is easily digestible and has all nine amino acids the body can’t produce itself — a complete protein of the highest quality. A 6-ounce serving of Alaskan halibut provides about 45 grams of protein!

Reduces inflammation

The omega-3 fatty acids in Alaskan halibut may also help to reduce inflammation in the body, which is linked to a variety of chronic diseases.

Contains vitamins, minerals and omega-3s

Wild halibut is a good source of several important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, magnesium, and selenium. Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant that prevents cognitive decline, is vital for thyroid health, boosts the immune system, may reduce risks of cancers, and may protect against heart disease. It's also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain function, heart health, and reducing inflammation in the body.

Lowers blood pressure

Some studies suggest that eating fish like Alaskan halibut can help lower blood pressure, which may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Because of its high quality, sustainability, and many health benefits, Alaskan halibut is highly sought after by chefs, foodies, and consumers who value premium seafood products. The price tag might not allow you not enjoy it daily, but if you make it your medicinal seafood highlight of the week, you won't be disappointed!

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